Domestic workers are a visible fixture where I live in Manhattan, caring for the elderly, cleaning apartments, shepherding kids to playdates and playgrounds while mom and dad are at work. But in many ways, they have long been an invisible and exploited workforce. They are considered “help” and not “labor” by truly misguided social convention. And they often aren’t afforded the same rights other workers are: being paid on the books, receiving compensated sick and vacation time, getting benefits like health care and social security, and freedom from harassment and retaliation.
A new survey just released by Domestic Workers United — the first comprehensive national survey of domestic workers — shows how incredibly pervasive these problems are for a workforce that is largely comprised of women of color, and includes many undocumented immigrants.